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Building a Family Room Addition

Building, Planning and Designing a Family Room Addition

By Mark J. Donovan

One way to create extra finished living space for your family is to build a family room addition. A family room is ideal for creating a relaxed living space for family and friends to retire to at the end of a busy day to socialize, and/or watch a game or show. Often family room additions are built off the side or back of a home adjacent to the kitchen area, making a big finished area that is ideal for large gatherings. Building a family room addition also makes an excellent investment decision as prospective young buyers always like to see them, particularly when they are built adjacent to a kitchen. This way the young parents can keep easy tabs on their small children while they are working in the kitchen.

 

If you are considering a building a family room addition there are a number of important things you should be aware of and should consider in its design.

Summarized below are the key items you should think about as part of the planning and design process of your family room project.

Family Room Design Considerations

First and foremost write down what you want to achieve in your family room design. For example, how large of a family room do you desire? How many square feet will it be? Where will you position it relative to the existing home? Also, what particular features do you want to incorporate into it, e.g. a cathedral ceiling with skylights, an ingress/egress exterior door, hardwood floors or carpeting, etc. Write down all of the important features and materials you want to include in your family room plans.
 

After you clearly understand what you want to build for a family room, then do some competitive market analysis (CMA) of your home pre and post the family room addition. This will give you an idea of how much money you can sink into the family room addition and still have it as a positive investment. The CMA process involves gathering a list of homeís currently listed for sale in your community. You then compare the price of them versus your home. You will need to develop two sets of comparisons, one without the family room addition and one with. You may want to work with a real estate agent to help conduct the CMA.

 

In the end the CMA should give you an idea of what your maximum budget should be for the room addition, such that the project is a positive financial investment right from the start.

Generating Family Room Plans

Once you have come up with a rough size of your family room addition, at least in terms of square feet, the next step is to put together a complete set of construction plans. You may want to enlist an architect to help you with this, or alternatively, there are number of home design software packages on the market that you can use to create your own set of plans.

It is important to keep in mind when generating your family room plans that both the interior and exterior of the addition need to meld well functionally and aesthetically into the existing home. Also, the room addition should be sized such that it does not represent more than a third of the length of the home when looking at it curbside. If it is any larger it will look out of proportion with the main part of the house.
 

Key areas to watch out for when generating the plans are the roof lines, elevations and the placement of windows and exterior doors. Again, they all need to meld well into the existing home. It is often with these particular items that homeowners get frustrated attempting to generate their own set of plans and end up calling in an architect to help.

You should also visit your local building inspector while developing your set of family room plans to make sure there are no specific setbacks and easement restrictions that you need to be aware of.


They can also make you aware of any important building codes that you need to include in your family room plans. In addition, the building inspector will be the one that grants you the permit to build the addition, and will most likely be the one to conduct the various inspections required during its construction. So it is good to make him or her aware of your intentions early on in the design process.

Financing

Once you have a set or room addition plans and budget you can determine how much financing you will need to obtain, unless of course you are paying cash for the project. If mortgage rates are currently low, relative to your existing mortgage, then you may want to refinance your entire home and request a loan size that includes the construction of the family room addition. If mortgage rates are higher than your existing mortgage rate, then you may want to go with a home equity loan to fund the room addition project.

How Much Sweat Equity Will You Be Putting into the Project?

Many homeowners building a family room addition decide to either be their own general contractor on the project, and/or plan to do much of its construction.

First, unless you have previous construction experience building and managing many subcontractors, I would suggest you steer away from the idea of acting as your own general contractor. Yes, you could potentially save a few dollars by being your own general contractor, but it is just as likely you could spend more. A general contractor has experience with large construction projects, and knows how to manage subcontractors. He will also more likely get lower cost subcontractor bids than you would since he does business with the various subcontractors on a regular basis. He also knows who to hire and who not to. Key trades people that will need to be hired include an excavation contractor, foundation contractor, framing crew, electrician, plumber, insulation contractor, mason, and drywall contractor. In some cases you may also need to hire a roofing contractor if the framing contractor is uninterested in doing this work.

In regards to the personal sweat equity, donít over estimate your skill levels and available time to do the work. If you do, it may take you a lot longer to complete the room addition than you could have imagined. Also, if you donít have all of the proper tools for the particular areas you want to do the work on, youíll need to account for the purchase or rental of the tools.

All this said, there are some areas of work that many homeowners can do, such as painting, tiling, and finished carpentry work. So think carefully what you really have the time and skills to do before biting off more that you can chew.

Building a Family Room Addition

Photo by Mark Donovan

Disruption to the Family

Building a family room addition will no doubt cause some disruption around your house, and particularly so if the family room addition will attach to your kitchen. A family room construction project is akin to building a small house, so there will be many contractors to have to work around, and as a result, there will be dirt, dust and mess to contend with. Also, since a family room addition is such a large project, expect the construction to go on for up to three months. In addition, you will be asked to make hundreds of small decisions during the construction, so be prepared to have to invest some time and energy supporting the general contractor and crew.

One key suggestion, I highly recommend renting a portable toilet and placing it on your property to prevent the need for contractors from having to traipse through you house to visit your bathroom, or even worse.

So after considering all of these important factors in building a family room addition and still feeling up for the challenge, then go ahead and jump with both feet into the project. Generate the plans, find a reputable general contractor, obtain the financing, pull the permits, and begin the construction of your new living space. With any luck, within two to three months your family will be enjoying their newly finished living space in your home
.

For more help on building a family room addition, see HomeAdditionPlus.com's Room Addition Bid sheet. The Room Addition Bid Sheet will help ensure that your room addition project goes smoothly and is completed on time and budget.

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- Building a Family Room Addition -

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